Sunday, June 5, 2016

Can You Hear Him Now?


Somebody once asked me if I was stranger as a child. Ignoring the subliminal insult, I responded with "I wasn't stranger; I was just louder" to which she yelled "WHOA". This conversation was held at 1 o'clock in the morning and we were both dredging through espresso crashes. I just wanted to clarify that in case you thought my friends and I discussed this regularly.

 Anyways, my point is that, even now, after 23 and a half years, I'm not the quietest person. Naturally speaking. My mom's favorite way to describe me is "the bull in the china shop". Pick any moment of the day (or probably night) and I'll be found either talking or singing. Calm just doesn't come easily for me. My brain is always going 90 miles an hour. Give me a double shot of espresso, and it'll go 171 miles an hour.

So if you ask me to quote my favorite Bible verse, I will start snickering, because it's a tad ironic.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God."

Or, to put it in simpler terms (aka The Message), "Brain. Chill. God's got this."

Now you're probably thinking, "yeah, Joanna, you should definitely read that verse a few more times and really take it to heart because you NEED it", to which I'll respond "DUH".

See, my coping mechanism is to talk things out with whomever is available at the moment. Myself, a dog, my mom, my brother, my best friend, God: if it seems animate, it has to endure a 10 minute soliloquy on "why can't my family just be boring" or "why can I literally do nothing right".

Now, honestly, talking things out is not a bad thing. The bad thing is how I've started freaking out over things that I can't control. I'm locally famous for overthinking things. (I worry about how I will teach my kids spelling. I don't even have a boyfriend.) I obsess for days. I let things stress me out to the point where I can't eat certain things because my ulcers have parties. I spend a lot of time worrying over things that I literally cannot change.

But I know I'm not the only person alive who does this. Take a look.

The verse above comes from Psalm 43:5. But you can also find it under Psalm 42:5, and 42:11. David says the same thing, almost word for word, three times in the space of two psalms. Why? Why in the world would a skilled poet repeat himself like that?

Well, the only way to be 100% sure is to ask David, but my chances of that happening are pretty slim, since the DeLorean crashed. But I think I still have a pretty good idea.

Did you know that David was human? He was. And any of you who are also human might understand that sometimes you worry and freak and stress about stuff that's out of your control. I'm sure David did this, too, and I think that's why he repeated himself. He needed to be reminded more than once that 1) God is God, 2) God has all power, and 3) God is watching over everything.

And, most of the time, the best way to remember this is to be quiet. I don't like quiet. I've known God for the better part of 23 years, but, sadly, only in the last 2 years have I established a daily "quiet time" with God. You know why it took me so long?

Because if I'm quiet, God might say something. To quote one of my favorite songs, "I'm so afraid of what You have to say; 'Cause I am quiet now, and silence gives You space."

Maybe, if I stop talking, I might finally hear Him saying "Hello, would you just listen to Me? I've got it all under control."

Maybe, if I stop flailing, I'll see Him gently, quietly working things out, one step at a time.

But as exhausting as it is to stress over things we can't control, often times, it's even harder to be still. It takes an intentional effort to stop what I affectionately call the "brain crazy".

Quiet doesn't just magically happen. It's a choice we have to make. Oh, we can't choose whether or not our family makes unhealthy decisions, and most of the time we can't fix the daily pet peeves we run into at work, but we can choose how we react to the drama. We can choose to let God handle the situations, and we can choose to be still and wait patiently for God's answers. Does that mean God will automatically remove all the problems from your life? Nope, usually most of the problems stick around, because, hey, we live in a sin-sick world! But  it does mean He will give you an indescribable peace of mind, and, if you accept, He will give you the strength and the grace to endure the troubles, no matter how long they last.

Have I mastered everything I'm saying?



But I'm learning. I'm naturally noisy, but I'm making an effort to cultivate a quiet mind. And more often these days, instead of finding me complaining about life for 30 minutes, you'll find me having a cup of tea and reading some Psalms.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Once Upon a Scar

I have a reputation for telling long stories. Not bedtime stories. It's more like I start to tell you about my latest good deal from Payless, and the next thing you know, I've told you where and how and when I bought all 50 pairs of shoes I own. (Not an exaggeration, and true story.) And don't come visit me, or I will give you a full genealogy report as we tour my house.

Some of my favorite stories to tell, though, are about scars. See, I have a scar on almost every finger, and a few on each hand. And there's a good story behind each one, because A) I'm a klutz, B) I'm a blonde, and C) I'm a blonde klutz. I clash with things like heating elements and giving dogs haircuts with scissors.

It's fun to tell stories about scars like that, but there are certain scars and stories that I don't share as easily. Like how I don't trust people quickly, or why it's difficult for me to talk to certain people, or how I've had anxiety attacks that leave me useless for an hour or two. I would much rather laugh off those scars and tell you instead about the $350 kitten heels that I bought for $3.50.

I assume it's the same for most everyone else. We'd probably rather cover up our scars and bruises and stuff down the stories behind those ugly marks. Personally, I'm mostly ashamed of mine. They make me look weak and messed up, and goodness knows I want people to think I'm perfect, or, at the very least, that I've got my life together. I'm a Christian. I've been raised in a stable, Christian environment my whole life. God forbid that that image be tainted by blemishes that would suggest otherwise.

...but, no, actually. No, God would actually forbid that I have that attitude. For one thing, who am I kidding? We all know none of the rest of us have perfect lives, so why even try to propagate THAT myth?? Furthermore, our scars, our stains, our bruises, our ugliness: they glorify God. No, really. My pastor's wife, Sis. Jeannie, once stated that "scars show that you've healed." Such a simple statement, yet so profound.

Life is going to throw stuff at you and it's going to hurt you. And there are two ways you can react.

You can choose to let those hurts fester and ache and never heal, and then, for the rest of your life, wear your wounds proudly to show everyone how damaged you are. You can make them into a lovely little chip on your shoulder and then become super sensitive to everything.

Or you can choose to let those hurts hurt as you find ways to heal. You can choose to be open with God and let Him fix you where sin broke you. You can choose to seek out honest, trustworthy people who will listen to you, pray for you, and walk with you as you heal. And before long, you will have a beautiful scar to show what God has done.

Yeah, I said a beautiful scar. Sure, the marks themselves look weird and they feel weird. For me, it hurts to try to function when you have anxiety screaming in your ears that you're a complete and total failure and that everyone you love and respect will never be proud of you. But that's when I can say what Paul said:

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Even though the scar itself may be ugly, the story behind it can be a beautiful testimony of how God loves us and how He cares for us and how faithful and patient He is when we are hurting and broken.

And not only does our story glorify God, it also serves to show the love of Jesus to others. Two years ago, I wrote some words to a friend of mine going through a horrible trial. I truly believe God gave me the words at the time, but I had no idea that I would need those same words myself today.

"Those cracks are painful, and messy, but He will smooth them and gradually ease their pain. Those holes are ugly, and they ache, but He will fill them with His presence, and He will slowly shrink them, over time...God has never needed perfect people or perfect families to spread His witness. Perfect people, if they exist, don’t need God. Hurting people, broken people, flawed people need God. And He wants these imperfect people. So it makes sense that He can best show His love to broken people through broken people. There is our purpose."

So don't be ashamed of your scars. Don't use your wounds as an excuse for bad behavior, or a crutch to gain people's sympathy. But don't be afraid to tell the story of your scars, and don't be afraid to share what God has done.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Breakup Letter

photo credit

{a guest post}
It’s not me, it’s you.

We’ve been on-again, off-again for quite a while now. For years you have told me that you’re the only one in this world who truly understands me, and I believed you--for a good portion of that time. You know the ins and outs of my heart, and can play my emotions like a fiddle.

At times, you’ve been the only one I could count on, and you knew this. You were someone I could turn to when I was all alone. More than an acquaintance, you were a part of me. You whispered in my ear in the evening, murmuring low enough that no one else could hear. You were the sharply dressed party guest that ran icy fingers down my neck and left me shivering. You’re the one who stared at me with prying eyes and caused me to pull bulky sweaters around my shoulders. You told me to live in shame of who I was and become who you wanted me to be. But that’s all changed now.

I will admit, I’ve lived with you in peace at times, enjoying the silence while it lasted. But suddenly I would hear your taunting voice echoing in my ears--and there you were, never gone so much as merely quiet, planning your attack with vicious precision.

You were a jealous lover, prying me from those I loved most. You told me I didn’t deserve any more attention that what you gave. You stole the breath from my lungs, and the innocence from my mind.

But in spite of that, I am here today, and I have something unexpected to say.

Thank you.

Thank you for the sleepless nights that taught me the sun always rises.

Thank you for the times you’ve flooded my mind with doubts, for through this, I have learned to prove what I believe.

Thank you for the queasy feeling that so often accompanied your return. It taught me that getting butterflies doesn't always mean love, and sometimes all you really need to cure infatuation is a good dose of Pepto Bismol.

Thank you for showing me myself through your eyes--in this I have learned to separate lies from truth.

Most of all, thank you for entering my life so I might better understand those around me. You tried to tell me that I was the only one, but I’m not surprised to learn of your affairs. I see the victims of your seduction nearly everyday, but I’ve found you out, and I intend to expose your lies to as many as I can.

I’m breaking up with you. I’ve decided to go out on my own. I don’t need you on my arm; I don’t need you to oversee my choices. I have made the decision to proceed with my life as the Lord and I see fit. And you are not a welcome part of this scenario.

I imagine I’ll still run into you at times. I’ll probably see you in passing, and I would be lying if I said it will never affect me. But you can’t rule me. You aren’t allowed to change my life. So thanks for the memories--even though they weren’t so great. I can't say that I will miss you.

Goodbye, Anxiety.

Emily is basically the polar opposite of Joanna, and the universe is still wondering why they are friends. While anxiously awaiting Captain America: Civil War, Emily stresses about her psychology grades and then destresses by writing for Ampersand Poetry. She thinks that humans could learn a lot from cats, and she loves Jesus more than anything else in the world.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Omniscient One

Last November, I sat for my DANB exam, which is a fancy way of saying that I attempted to get qualified to help a dentist with your root canal. It's a long, hard test, and I had never done anything like it. Furthermore, I had basically no one to go to for help. I was the only dental assistant I knew, and all my classmates were too far away to meet for study groups. I was scared, and I was nervous, but I used my study helps and practice tests to the max. I also prayed.

See, I believe that God wanted me to pursue dental assisting. And I went through school trying to honor His will by working hard and getting my best grades. The DANB was the next to the last step, and I was smart enough to realize I wouldn't pass on my own. In my prayer time that morning, I prayed a deeply profound prayer that went like this: "Well, God, here we are. I've done everything I can to prepare, so it's all on You now. If this is really what You want me to do, You are gonna have to help me." And once I started the test, I prayed basically the entire time. Several of the questions were different than I had anticipated, and I did not feel good coming out of the test. When I finished, the proctor handed me my unofficial results. As soon as I got to my car, I looked at the three papers, and I bawled for about 5 minutes.

I had passed. All 3 parts. So before I started calling people, I took a minute to pray and thank God. Which is when I made one of the less intelligent statements of my life.

"Lord, You just don't know. You don't understand. You have no idea how much this means to me."

The minute the words came out, I laughed, and I felt a little ashamed. Because seriously. He's God Almighty. Of course He knows how I feel. I just got ahead of myself trying to express how relieved and overjoyed I was.

But...have you ever really thought about it? We know the Father sees and knows everything, but sometimes, when life gets really dark and lonely, it's easy to feel like He's a tad disconnected from us human beings and our human lives.

And that's where Jesus comes in. Because Jesus was 100% man, He knows exactly what we go through from day to day. Even though He was 100% God, I'm pretty sure He dreaded Mondays, had to bite His tongue over a snarky comment, and maybe even fought depression.

But sometimes we think that because Jesus didn't experience the exact same situations we have, we feel like He can't truly relate to our feelings. Or maybe that's just me.

My family went through a horrific experience last year that shattered us and destroyed everything I knew as my world. And because the situation was unique, I felt so lonely. My friends were so wonderfully caring, but it isn't the same when you know no one else who's been in your shoes. So for many months, I felt isolated inside. I felt like a experimental freak for having feelings that nobody else could relate to. And honestly, I started to look at Jesus the same way. I knew He loved me and I knew He was by my side every minute. But Jesus wasn't a girl. Jesus' Father hadn't done what my father had done. I felt Jesus, but I didn't feel like Jesus felt me.

Until the day He made things clear to me. I don't remember the service or the sermon, but I remember where I was praying, and I remember the "light bulb from God" moment. There was no audible voice, but I suddenly realized that there really were similarities between mine and Jesus' trials. So I wrote them down:

I've been rejected.
Jesus was rejected.

My father turned his back on me.
Jesus’ Father turned His back on Him.

I've been lied to.
Jesus was lied to.

I've been lied about.
Jesus was lied about.

Nobody believed me.
Nobody believed Jesus.

I've been betrayed by the ones I love.
Jesus was betrayed by people He loved.

People wasted my gifts and efforts and love.
People threw away everything Jesus did.

People downplay my hurt and pain.
People laughed at Jesus' pain.

It feels like someone ripped out my heart, turned it inside out, laughed at the way it looked, left it on the ground and then left me to bleed.
Jesus was ripped to shreds, left naked, and everyone laughed, and left Him for dead.

I feel alone. I am so scared of being alone. Having to face something by myself. Being left alone.
Jesus was almost always alone.

When I saw all that together on paper, it felt like Jesus had literally reached down and hugged me. He really knew how bad I was hurting. He truly sympathized with me. He felt me. Jesus suffered heartache and betrayal thousands of years before I was even born, so that I wouldn't have to feel alone, and you wouldn't have to feel alone, either. I don't remember where I found this quote, but I love it:

"Christ leads us through no darker rooms than He has walked before." 
Richard Baxter

I'm sure you've heard it a dozen times yourself, so I'll just say it one more time for you: Jesus knows. I don't care how terrible your situation is, or how oddly things may have happened for you. Jesus knows. I know sometimes it's hard to believe, when you're in the darkest midnight of your problem, or when it feels like your test has gone on for an eternity. But I promise you, and God promised you, too, that He would not let you go through life's battles without giving you His strength to survive. Hebrews explains it better than I can.

"Therefore, in all things He [Jesus] had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." 
Hebrews 2:17,18

"He is able to aid those who are tempted." Jesus will help you when you are tested. Because He was made to be like us, His brethren, He can hold us and comfort us when we're frustrated, or overwhelmed, or completely broken down.

He knows. I promise you. He knows.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Self-Containment 101

Have you ever tried fasting? The Bible says a good deal about it, and if you mention you're fasting, people either think you're over-spiritual, or they're impressed. Or at least, that's how I react, depending on the person doing the fast.

Well, I had never tried a fast, until last April. A friend encouraged me to try it, and I felt like it would help me. I was struggling to focus on school, and focus in my walk with God. But food fasting is hard, let me just say. Pert near impossible for this girl. So I did the next best thing: social media. Because of course that's the next most important thing after food. Ranks above breathing, even.

So I took away the social media that I use the most. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Some might question Pinterest as a social media, but I was on it as much as the other sites, and it was feeding some of my brain-crazy, so I took it away from myself. And it was hard.

Pinterest was gone, so I couldn't look up pretty things or funny things.
Tumblr was gone, so I lost half of my ability to do my MBTI research.
Twitter was gone, so I couldn't have witty, deep gripe sessions.
Snapchat was gone, so I couldn't see my funny friend's morning Stories.
Instagram was gone, so I couldn't stalk my favorite actors' pictures.
And Facebook was gone, so I was pretty much cut off from the world and couldn't stalk everyone I usually stalk.

Let me just say, it was an interesting result. I started a couple of days into April, and my goal was to go the rest of the month. I didn't journal, but I did take notes, and this what I got:

Day 1: Pinterest withdrawals are horrid. I realize how often I involuntarily open my Facebook app. (Answer: way too often.) Radio plays "Strangely Dim", which I haven't heard in 3-4 years, so I take this as confirmation from God that this is a good idea.

Day 2: PINTEREST WITHDRAWALS. But I can tell a huge difference in my focus. Much less brain fog.

Day 3: I have the irresistible urge to Internet-stalk the single guy who said hi to me after Sunday School 3 weeks ago at church. I log into my brother's Facebook on my browser to stalk. Pretty sure that's a loophole.

Day 4: Fighting serious urges to log into Instagram to see if I have a reply to that passive-aggressively important DM. I experiment to see how much coffee I can drink in one day. I get 2 1/2 cups in the first 5 hours and have to stop. My brain becomes a merry go round.

Day 9: I understand now what God means when He says that sin robs you. Interestingly enough, my biggest problem has tempted me more now that I don't have SM to distract me in my downtime. So I have to take away something I really enjoy, so as to not open the door for me to be tempted again.

Day 10: I really, really miss my social media. I feel lonely. Also, I log into my Instagram profile to look at my old posts. But I don't scroll through my feed. Is that a loophole?

Day 12: I really miss Pinterest. I really wanna nostalgically scroll through my boards. Really bad. I break and log into Instagram to see if a particular gal has posted any pics. I resist the urge to scroll through, but I still feel bad, so I log out. I really don't have good self control. *heavy sigh*

Day 17: YAY ONLY 9 MORE DAYS. Huh. I wonder if I should go for 40, since Jesus fasted 40. It's getting close to finals, and I'm getting more focused. Ooh. That'd be a LOT of days...

Day 18: I could be doing alot of MBTI research, but no. *sigh*

Day 22: Do you know how HARD it is to open Facebook on a computer, use Messenger, and resist the urge to check all your notifys and scroll through stuff. IT IS HARD. But I did it. Also, if I choose to do a 40 day fast, that puts me at Friday, May 15. *sigh* I don't know if I can, but I feel as if I should.

Day 26: I'm...gonna do it. I think I'm gonna try the 40 days. I'll just see what I can do. I feel like I am sacrificing, because I'm missing all the Avengers stuff. So perhaps that's good for me. Here...goes nothing, I guess.

Day 30: I feel sad, man. Sad.

Day 32: Seriously? I have to miss seeing the stuff from Joseph's graduation from basics? :/

Day 35: I have to miss Mother's Day?! I can't post anything about my wonderful mum?! *cries in corner*

Day 40: I made it 40 days before my mom knew I was fasting. That feels like an accomplishment somehow.

If you're laughing, don't feel bad, because I'm laughing at myself. It's crazy to think how much I was on social media, and how much of my thoughts were consumed by it. I learned a few things, obviously.

1. I'm on it way too often.
2. I am a bit of an attention hog.
3. It made me stop and think about what I planned to post.
4. I was too worried about other people's lives and not worried enough about what I was accomplishing.
5. It was weird getting to be told by my friends about the "important" news, when I'm used to being the informant.
6. I found out how insignificant my posts are. I don't think anybody noticed I was gone. Either my posts are boring, or I don't interact with enough people online.
7. If this was a fast in the true sense of the word, then maybe I didn't use it to its full potential. I didn't really spend more time reading and praying. 
8. I will not have that much coffee in one setting again.

You know what I discovered when I got back on? I was actually a little overwhelmed when I got back on by the thought of having to catch up on all I missed. (Which for me was mostly Instagram and Facebook.) I realized how "unimportant" it all can really be.

Social media can be an educational tool, or it can be a wonderful way to connect to your favorite people, or it can be a great way to spread God's Word. But all of those are very intentional uses of social media. Most of the time, I'm just scrolling through stuff. And simply being on social media should not be my focus. Educating myself, connecting with my loved ones, and spreading God's Word should be the focus. Simply put, social media should be a means to an end. And I can't elevate the means above the end.

So I challenge you to try this. I'd do it again, and I'm thinking about doing it again sometime this year. You don't have to do it for 40 days, and you don't have to do it for some huge spiritual reason. Just try it. What you learn might surprise you.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Fear-esolutions: 2016


Well, here we are again. Another fresh year, wide open with possibilities, good and bad. Not surprisingly, the entire New Year's holiday makes me very pensive. I usually end up making some grandiose plans, or I get moody thinking about all the stupid things that happened in the old year and wondering whether the new year will be as bad. Sometimes the moody side wins and bad things happen. Such as Thursday night, when I needed a few minutes alone, and it turned into me missing 20 minutes of Ant-Man and crying while I painted my toenails. That stupid freaking Fe-Si combination.

But if the moody predominates on the 31st, the grandiose usually takes control by the time the sun rises on the 1st, and I come up with 370 great ideas that I can accomplish in the next 12 months. Which is why you are now reading another goofy blog post, from Yours Truly, regarding what fears she plans to conquer this year. If the list is just too much self-centeredness for you, then by all means, skip to the end, and I'll try to make it up to you.

1. Being more independent

Is it possible to type a paragraph while also staring innocently at the ceiling? I'm going to test it here. I don't really know what codependency looks like, to be honest, but I think I'm codependent. Whenever I remember to schedule my next appointment, I'll ask my therapist. Haha. Part of being more independent means not being afraid of moving out on my own. I'm a little too used to having another person help me manage my life, and it's time I took more responsibility for myself, since, you know, I am 23. The other part of it is letting go of the stupid idea that I personally need to take care of every single person remotely connected to me. Not that I want to manage their lives exactly, but that I think they need my help to care for themselves. My brother, my mother, my friends, the 200 pound Akita I call my nephew...anything that just looks at me with a question, I'll have 12 answers ready before they finish talking. It's kinda funny sometimes, but it's also an unhealthy habit. It's time for me to stop being afraid of growing up.

2. Talking to guys

*blows out air* This should be so simple. But it is not for me. I can't really justify it, or explain it properly. It basically boils down to me getting very self-conscious around guys older than I am, and then I fail at handling proper social graces, such as verbalizing 6-10 word sentences. Having several fierce jokesters for friends doesn't really help matters. The only way I know to overcome this is to simply pay better attention, and to stop zoning out when I get into social situations. 

3. Admitting my mistakes

I doubt anyone ever gets to be an expert at admitting their faults, and if so, I'd like to meet that person. I'd sure rather let my peers think I'm perfect, but in all honesty, that only hurts me and it hurts my peers, too. Sometimes, we may have the same struggles as someone close to us, and by hiding and belittling our problems, we unintentionally downplay theirs as well. If someone else can learn from my mistakes, then I can't let my fear get in the way of that.

4. Learn French

I am not technically afraid of this, per se, but I am nervous, and I am intimidated by French. I studied Spanish for about 5 years in school, so I am used to that set of grammar rules, sentence structure, etc. French is a whole different ball park, and it does NOT MAKE SENSE TO ME. There are too many vowels running together. But I will need French to accomplish a goal I have, so I guess we'll see how far I get.

5. Being accepting and loving to people

I don't know how to clearly explain this, but it's something that I've been thinking about for several months. I've always been a little guarded, and, I hate to admit, a little judgmental. While I've improved on the judging part, I still hesitate to let people in. And even though it isn't exactly a sin to shut people out, I believe God would prefer I am a little more open with people. I'm hoping He will show me how to love people, if they need it from me, and I want the wisdom to know how to help people best.

6. Growing closer to God

It's cliched, yes. But something that I am slightly afraid of, honestly. I think it might be because I have a different relationship with my earthly father than most people do, and that kinda transfers over to my relationship with God. I've always related to God differently than others, I think, and I've struggled to understand certain aspects of His character. I pray that I will not be afraid of being vulnerable and open to God. Since He knows all about me, anyways. ;-)

7. Making a budget
8. Controlling my eating

I'm combining these because they are both examples of my biggest weakness: self-control. I'll be very honest and say that I currently weigh 220 pounds and my 5'8" frame finds this uncomfortable, inconvenient, and exhausting. Some of it is due to no exercise, but most of it is due to bad food choices and too much food choices. Ha. Ha. The budget is basically the same. Many times, I spend money blindly, because I have it, and I get excited over a clearance item, or a special gift for a friend. But all of that is bad, and since God has blessed me with a good job and good health, I'm going to try harder to conquer whatever fears are keeping me from improving these two. I already have a head start, too: aka Crown Financial's study, and a younger brother who thinks he's a personal trainer. ;-)

So there we have it. I couldn't quite get 10 this year, but I think I better see how I do with these 8. ;-) Which brings us to the next topic of discussion: what to do with this blog. I have spent a good deal of time thinking about it, and what my goals are for it. I started to feel a little defeated, and thinking that it is pointless, and most of that stems from not being able to post as often as I used to. For now, I work my regular job, and I babysit 2 evenings a week. I also signed up for 2 online classes this spring semester, and I have a few big things I want to accomplish this year. So The Squirrel's Diary has been forced to the back burner, and I hate that. I want my writing to be useful and helpful, and point people to Jesus, and I also like the chance to geek out about books and movies. So I can't get rid of the blog, but I'm going to have to adjust to posting less often. It makes me sad, but that's just life. 

2016 should be great. I'm optimistic, and I'm also ready if things go topsy-turvy on me again. And about my theme for this year....

Again, it's a little cliched, but it's the best fit for me this year. Happy 2016, y'all.